01:30 AM

​J.T. Barrett prepares to lead the Buckeyes one final time

Captain. Leader. Graduate. Buckeye.

When J.T. Barrett ends his career at The Ohio State University tonight in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic, he will have earned all of those titles and more.

Barrett is the only three-time captain in Ohio State football history. He set more than two dozen Ohio State and Big Ten Conference records as a quarterback. And he graduated in 2016 with his degree in communication.

In a conversation about Barrett before the Cotton Bowl, President Michael V. Drake said Barrett’s leadership stands out.

“He’s been a great leader for our football team and really for our entire university,” Drake said. “He’s really been an inspiration for us. And that you actually can see on that team he's a great leader among his peers.”

Barrett was honored to be chosen by his teammates to be captain of the team. He aspired to fill the role but knows he didn’t do it alone.

“I think it’s not just myself – there’s other leaders that we have on this team,” Barrett said. “It’s been a blessing, honestly, to be able to lead the Ohio State Buckeyes. I didn’t think it was going to be like this when I first came here. I wanted to be a leader, leave my impact and serve people but to have the opportunity to be a three time captain, it’s definitely been a blessing.”

Barrett didn’t come to Ohio State just to lead the football team. Education was a priority for him and his family.

“When I came to Ohio State it was very clear to me from my mom that you’re here not just to play football but you’re also here to get that piece of paper and get that degree,” he said. “So I was definitely happy that I was able to get a degree from Ohio State.”

Overcoming adversity has been a hallmark of Barrett’s career.

Barrett was forced into the starting role as a freshman after quarterback Braxton Miller went down with and injury. He led the Buckeyes to a place in the Big Ten Championship before his own injury saw Cardale Jones lead the team to a national championship.

This year, he injured his knee warming up for the game against Michigan, had surgery on the knee the following day and led the team to a Big Ten Championship the following weekend. Drake said that perseverance should be inspirational for the Buckeye Nation.

“It was great watching J.T. come back so quickly from his injury before the Michigan game and watching him and warm up before the game in Indianapolis and then to play throughout the entire game and be so strong,” Drake said. “I think it was a real inspiration to us all. And the big smile on his face at the end of the game said it all.”

Now Barrett gets to finish his award-winning career in Arlington, TX. He’ll be just a few hours from his hometown of Wichita Falls.

“I think my focus is going to be on the game. Maybe in the beginning it might hit me that this is my last time playing at Ohio State,” he said. “I think the main focus is going to be my teammates and beating USC in the Cotton Bowl and become bowl champs.”